No matter where he winds up in 2017, Josef Newgarden will never forget the season that was in 2016.
Newgarden, who finished sixth in Sunday’s season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, is keeping mum about what next season holds in store for him in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
There are rumors about him potentially joining Team Penske.
Others call Newgarden the pivotal domino during the offseason: where he ultimately ends up could potentially impact the 2017 season plans for several other drivers – and what teams they’ll wind up racing for.
And there’s still a chance Newgarden could remain with Ed Carpenter Racing, a team that he has truly blossomed with, particularly in the last two seasons (2015 was under the Carpenter/Fisher Racing banner).
All in all, 2016 was a great season for Newgarden, particularly since it ended with a career-best fourth-place overall finish in the standings. Had he been able to amass just three more points in the 16-race schedule, he would have finished third in the overall season standings.
Still, he’s not complaining.
“We feel great about it,” Newgarden told NBCSN after the race. “It would have been nice to get Helio (Castroneves) there. I was doing everything I could and the team was working as hard as they could. We missed it by just a bit.
“I still think we had a great season. We really had an amazing team effort and all year, with all the trials and tribulations, everybody pulled through when we needed to. We nearly got there in the end. There’s nothing for us to hang our heads about.”
As for his future and what team he’ll race for next season, Newgarden will never forget where he came from.
“I love this team,” he said. “I can’t say anything but great things about it. I love working here, I’ve got everything I could ask for from a boss and a team. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this group all year.”